Who’s afraid of the BIG BAD BASKETBALL…

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At the bottom of the path from our village to Sai Kung, in the tiny village of Wang Kong, there’s a vegetable and flower garden tended by a man who looks about 112 years old. Sometimes I’ve been walking Basil Leaf down there early in the morning, 7am or so, and I see this man opening up his gate, heading into town with his flat trolley piled up with bunches of various types of choy, and yellow flowers. He walks really slowly. His trolley is heavy and he’s almost bent in half from tending his impressive rows of plants for probably the last 85 years.

The old people here are incredibly robust. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (whose remit covers garbage collection, street cleaning, and maintenance of road works) is staffed by an army of elderly, mostly female, Hakka people. They wrap garbage bags over their uniform and they wear their distinctive wide fringed hat. The entire FEHD workforce seems to be aged over 60. It’s one of those things I’ve got used to now but which shocked me at the start, seeing all the old women pushing trolleys up and down the main streets, loading them up with public bins for transportation to the skips. They move hard rubbish, couches and fridges and televisions, on their trolleys too. Like ambling aged oxen. They sweep the streets with handmade rush brooms. Their dustpan is an empty oil drum cut open, with a bamboo handle. All their equipage is identical. It’s like they sit in the depot and make these quaint tools to a template.

So it’s no surprise to see an elderly man tending a huge patch of land from morning to night, like my bent-backed mate in Wang Kong. This guy, though, has made this genius scarecrow to protect his patch. It’s a basketball with a t-shirt duct-taped underneath.

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At first I thought it was basically the shittiest scarecrow I’d ever seen. A basketball wearing a cap? How dumb are birds? Pretty dumb, I guess, because look at his perfect choy.

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But guess what. This scarecrow was just wearing the white shirt yesterday and today IT IS WEARING A VEST. Because…it’s really cold here today? Dude has a keen eye for styling? Just keeping those birds on their claws?

I love that old guy!

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